Grimsby Town legend Tony Ford hoping Century Club can drive Mariners into future
GRIMSBY Town legend Tony Ford was so impressed when he heard about The Century Club that he encouraged his firm to sign up!
Ford, who signed for the Mariners within months of leaving Wintringham Grammar School, is perhaps one of the most successful products of the club's Youth system.
He is still one of only two outfield players in British history to have played more than 1,000 competitive matches – over 400 of them at Blundell Park during his two spells at the club.
Ford, now based in Rochdale, is an insurance consultant at Blackburn-based broker Chase Templeton.
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And, after hearing about The Century Club – launched in partnership between the Grimsby Telegraph and GTFC – he has encouraged the firm to pledge their support.
The Century Club calls on 100 business to pledge £200 each with all donations helping sustain and grow the Mariners' Youth set-up.
"I think it's a great idea," he told the Telegraph. "It's very, very important that a club like Grimsby has a decent youth system.
"Fans, regardless of what level their team are at, like to see home-grown lads coming through – they want to have that local link.
"Financially, it's also a huge boost if you can produce your own players.
"It saves the extra expense of going out and buying players if you've brought lads through from your youth team."
Ford was part of a particularly strong crop of players to come through the youth set-up, with Dave and Kevin Moore, Kev Drinkell and Shaun Mawer among his cohorts.
Recalling his time in the set-up, he said: "I was fortunate to get a chance with my hometown club and then to get to play for them was a real honour.
"When I was starting out, not just Grimsby but with a lot of teams at that time, a lot of the team was made up of local lads.
"It was just fortunate that a lot of our lads were local, stuck together and went on to have decent success together.
"Around 50 per cent of the first team at that time had come through the Youth team.
"It was basically down to the manager of the time, John Newman who came in and put a lot of us young lads into the first team.
"I've got great memories from my time at Town, I played for just over ten years and it have me a great grounding to go on and have a long career in the game."
He added: "Usually within the locality of any football club, there is a good crop of players.
"I think it's great that something has been launched to maintain the club's Youth set-up in order to nurture those players.
To become a member of The Century Club, call Grimsby Town's commercial manager Dave Smith on 01472 608007.